Once you’ve chosen your perfect itinerary, selected the departure dates and clicked the ‘book’ button, you can start looking forward to setting sail, right? Well, although there’s nothing to stop you getting in the holiday spirit, there are certain rules and regulations to do with cruise travel that first-time passengers will need to investigate ahead of their maiden voyage.
Ensure your cruise goes as smoothly as possible this year and read our practical cruise tips before you go.
Passport requirements for cruises
UK citizens travelling anywhere in the world will need a British passport, which is valid for at least 6 months after you return, to board any cruise ship. Make sure you apply for a new or renewed passport 6 weeks before you’re due to leave.
Do I need a visa to go on a cruise?
Whether you need a visa or multiple visas really depends on your cruise route, the amount of time spent in port and your nationality. As a general rule, cruise companies require you to be responsible for researching and applying for your own visas as needed, so it’s a good idea to begin this process around 8 to 10 weeks before departure.
For travellers from the UK, countries in Australia or Asia will usually require a 10 day holiday visa to travel here on a cruise. Nations like China, India and Russia ask for a pre-arranged visa, while others such as Vietnam and Indonesia can be purchased while on board the ship; check your specific destinations for up-to-date information before you travel.
That said there are some destinations, such as Turkey, which are covered by a ‘blanket visa’ specifically for cruise passengers. However, this might mean that you are restricted to certain areas while in Turkish ports, or can only come ashore for a specified amount of time.
It is worth noting that even if you decide not to disembark, you will still need to arrange a visa in most locations. It’s also sensible to do this because of unforeseen circumstances such as illness or family emergency that may require you to go ashore for longer than expected.
In all cases, it’s best to check your cruise lines’ visa information, as variations can apply, as well as consulting international online resources such as Global Visa.
Travel insurance for cruises
It’s important to look for travel insurance that covers all the bases of cruise travel. The usual factors should be considered – such as medical expenses and baggage loss – but in addition, you should take into account technical difficulties that might delay your voyage. In the case of fly-cruises, if you are halted for some reason you could miss your connection or the boarding window for your flight home. Emergency repatriation cover is another essential – if you’re taken ill at sea helicopter transportation might be required. There are plenty of insurance companies specialising in cruise travel cover, so you should be able to find something that ticks all of the boxes.
Though visas and insurance might not be the first thing on your mind while you’re daydreaming about the Caribbean or cruising Australia’s golden coast, sorting out these practicalities before you leave can avoid all kinds of issues later on. What’s more, once you’ve got all your travel documents organised, you can sit back and start counting the days until you get out onto the ocean waves!
Do you have any tips or experiences to share on the practical side of cruise travel? Leave us your advice in the comments below.
Images by Royal Caribbean and John O’Nolan, used under Creative Commons licence.